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African scholars must assert themselves and provide intellectual leadership that places African ideals at the centre of all African solutions to address numerous challenges facing the continent.

Speaking at a pan-African forum which opened yesterday in the capital ahead of Africa Day commemorations, University of Zimbabwe sociologist Prof Claude Mararike said African scholars needed to recapture the intellectual space to define Africa’s future agenda that drew inspiration from the continent’s own distinctive and unique experience.

“My number one concern is the agenda. What agendas do we set for our universities, Sadc and for the African Union?” he said at a conference organised by Afrocentricity International.

“What kind of knowledge do African universities produce? That is my concern. We must place African ideals at the centres of our own African agenda an agenda that promotes ideals African, the African world view.”

He said there was need to respect and utilize African ancestral wisdom and knowledge to develop policies tailored to respond to challenges facing the continent.

African universities, Prof Mararike also said, needed to provide intellectual leadership that could guide rigorous policy approach and be used more effectively by African states to stimulate critical engagement on these key issues.

“We want to prevent the process of social death (loss of Africa’s critical cultural values) and aance our economic, financial, social, political and cultural architecture into one that is more equitable, balanced and aances an agenda that benefits our people.”

UZ linguist, Dr Tavengwa Gwekwerere, said failure to develop and promote the African agenda had far-reaching implications in terms of aancing Western colonial interests on the continent.

“If you don’t have your own agenda, you will be recruited to participate in other people’s agendas,” he said.

Added Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University scholar, Dr Simphiwe Sesanti: “We are in the mess we are in because we have followed in the footsteps of our (colonial) masters. We are choosing to be Ghanaians, Nigerians, Tanzanians . . . over being us — Africans.

“We now see those who are like us as representing everything despicable and those who are not like us as representing everything good. We are paying lip service to the revolution. We need a paradigm shift.”

Dr Ama Mazama, a veteran pan-African scholar at the Temple University in Philadelphia, US, emphasised the need for Afrocentric action based on “Four Axis” — political, economic, social and spiritual pillars — to reclaim and recover Africa’s ‘stolen legacy.”

“We need to reclaim all this in all these areas as African people,” she said. “We must cultivate our confidence and assert ourselves to bolster our independence, improve our social interaction and provide a place of redemption, healing and restoration for Africa’s development.

“There is just too much human and intellectual capital that we should not leave to whites, Arabs and other races that aim to exploit the continent. It is incumbent upon us to do it and assert our intellectual leadership as strategic arm for Africa’s future development.”

She said failure to reclaim and control Africa’s ideals and values was tantamount to surrendering the continent’s future.

Prominent African-American studies scholar, Dr Molefi Kete Asante, said the African intelligentsia needed to be conscious of the global condition of African people in order to nurture and build a pan-African movement that could help determine the future of Africans.

“We need to dethrone Western hegemony in Africa so that Africans can be in control of their destiny,” he said. “We need to honour and value the spirit of Africa’s heroes who fought to liberate the continent.

“As we move into the future, we as Africans must be in control, we must be our own and set our own agenda.”

He urged pan-African scholars to regroup as African people globally to build g links with the intelligentsia at home and in the Diaspora.

“We need to reconnect and touch base so that we are clear about what we have to do to overcome our challenges as Africans,” Dr Asante said. “We need to come together and regroup to tackle the challenges we are facing. We need meaningful and effective solutions for African people.”

The conference attracted more than 50 pan-African scholars, activists, students and was held under the theme: “Reclaiming and Recovering Our Stolen Legacy: Building a New African Consciousness and Reality.”

The purpose and goals of the pan-African forum were to commemorate Africa Day and share experiences that mobilise Africans to effectively respond to critical challenges on the African continent and other parts of the Diaspora.

Another goal was to ensure African heritage and values are prioritised in the work to promote pan-Africanism and also to explore opportunities for Africans to promote fair trade and participate in investments and other business initiatives.

Said a veteran of the pan-African movement: “The Harare gathering is historic and sets the pace to establish a principled and revolutionary position to help prevent the re-colonisation of Africa by European and Arab interests in African oil and other natural resources.”

Source : The Herald

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